Monday, August 30, 2004

They’re here, they're dear, get used to it.

The "Billionares For Bush" are three for three at the RNC, having completed their Million Billionaire march, Billionaire croquet match and finally their assault on midtown this afternoon, where they might have had their finest hour – full billionaire regalia at the center of the universe – Times Square.

Posing under the big florescent frontispiece of the “W” hotel in Times Square, they looked like a bunch of ’30’s cartoon characters.

After a successful jaunt down from the Plaza in the morning, the moguls, all liberal activists in real life, convened at the center of Manhattan at the heart of the theater district on Sunday to urge voters to reject John Kerry’s policy of “pandering to the special interests of ordinary Americans.”

The billionaires were in their element.

Dressed in tuxedos, top hats and ball gowns, and waving signs that read “Four More Wars,” and “More Yachts, Less Have-Nots,” they made their presence felt through a brief, targeted direct action at Times Square .

“Billionaires For Bush” is a loose, horizontally aligned group of activists, whose shtick consists of a tongue in cheek street theater performance in which they assume the garb and manner of rich snobs, in order to satirize what President Bush once famously described as his base – the elite.

“We take the Bush administration to its logical conclusion,” said George Weis, a k a, Hal E. Burton. Weis, a 46-year-old computer programmer from Sacramento, Ca, said that the Billionaires show that “you can make a statement and also have fun with it.” The group originated as an offshoot of United For a Fair Economy, an advocacy group that calls for greater economic equality.

“It’s ridiculous and so much fun to do,” said Victoria Olson, a massage therapist who lives on the Lower East Side and described herself as of “a certain age.” Olson, a k a “Fonda Sterling,” has been with group since January and said that her primary focus is organizing the “Bling-Bling Ka-Ching Singers,” who perform original songs with such titles as “It’s a Jobless Recovery.”

Douglas Hart, a sound engineer who lives in Brooklyn and goes by the name “Avaricious B. Trickledown” said that he was drawn to the “guerilla theater” aspect of the group. Hart, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Mr. Monopoly, the mascot of the board game, said that he had cobbled together his tuxedo and top-hat for about $70 by going to thrift-stores and hunting around online.

As the group strutted around Times Square hailing each other and uttering such pronouncements as, “George Bush knows that no lobbyist should have to ask twice,” a group of helmeted riot police kept a watchful eye from across the street. But Hart wasn’t worried. “Cops aren’t going to arrest us,” he said, as he took an imaginary puff from a foot-long fake cigar. “It would look really bad to arrest a guy in a top-hat.”


Blogger Kate said...

Great article, Sam! You should submit it somewhere...I mean somewhere other than our precious blog.

August 30, 2004 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Caitlin J. said...

that is a really fun story. I liked it a bunch.

August 31, 2004 at 1:28 AM  
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